Album review: RICHIE KOTZEN, IAN GILLAN (reissues)

RICHIE KOTZEN - Telecasters & Stratocasters - Klassic Kotzen

The Store For Music [Release date 17.11.17/23.02.18]

A welcome outing for three late-1990s solo albums from the underrated Richie Kotzen, repackaged as Telecasters & Stratocasters: Klassic Kotzen.  Kotzen might be best known for his stints in Poison and Mr.Big and as a solo artist he’s consistently produced excellent releases but never quite breaking into the mainstream.  This  might be due to his eclectic approach, straddling fusion flavours and R&B as much as rock.

From Something To Say (1997) and What Is (1998) to 1999′s Break It All Down all showcase Kotzen’s meld of soulful rock, frequently funky but always tuneful.   In truth there is consistency but a paucity of true killer tracks such as ‘Cross The Line’ from the 1999 album.

The 9 bonus tracks spread across the three discs actually come from the 1996 release ‘Wave Of Emotion’.  Why on earth couldn’t Store For Music have squeezed all 11 tracks on to this collection (across the three discs) ?  ****

In the same series, Ian Gillan gets a 3-disc set The Voice Of Deep Purple focusing on two solo albums Accidentally On Purpose (1988) and Naked Thunder (1990) and the 1977 Ian Gillan Band album Scarabus.  The sub-title ‘The Gillan Years’ is somewhat erroneous.

The Ian Gillan Band was quite a diversion for Gillan who, in the late-seventies following his split from Purple, produced a series of jazz rock/fusion albums including ‘Scarabus’ with the redoubtable Ray Fenwick on guitar and Colin Towns on keys.

The two solo albums were released after Gillan had reunited with Purple for the Perfect Strangers album.  Accidentally On Purpose was a joint project with Roger Glover and is more pop-orientated and synth heavy.

On the other hand Naked Thunder (with his band Garth Rockett and the Moonshiners) is more rock inclined with an early 1990s sheen.  ‘Love Gun’ might hark back to ‘Fireball’ and therefore somewhat out of place but the excellent ‘No Good Luck’, ‘Sweet Lolita’ and ‘Nothing To Lose’ more than compensate.  The album was co-written with long-time collaborator Steve Morris who has also worked more recently with Steve Overland.

The  6 live bonus tracks are all previously released and feature Ian Gillan Band and Gillan (including a Japanese tour interview) performing a bunch of Purple classics and ‘Restless’.  ***1/2

Both releases include a very basic, somewhat lazy, liner note and – in the case of Ian Gillan – a bio lifted straight from Wikipedia.

Review by David Randall

David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.

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Each week David Randall presents ‘New to GRTR!’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, with the emphasis on independent artists and labels. During December he replays favourite tracks including power plays featured during the year. This show covers the period January-March and was first broadcast on 1 December 2019.

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